The UK have voted to leave the European Union. Whether you’re of the opinion that this is a win for the UK or a tragedy for the EU, the decision has been made and it’s now time to look to the future and the potential impact of the decision on the public, the economy, and industry.
There has been very quick coverage in the media. The BBC looked at how some of Britain’s delicacies may be affected, a Guardian report looked at the likelihood of food price rises in the coming months and years and The Irish Times commented on the effect to the agricultural sector.
As the dust settles the only thing we can be sure of is a lot of uncertainty as the true implications are uncovered.
Some of the issues within the food industry that may be affected by Brexit include:
- Funding to farmers or agricultural businesses in the form of EU grants. It’s unclear whether these funds will be replaced by similar grants from the British government, and if they are, will the fundings amounts be comparable? What process will surround the granting of such funding?
- The EU had what some believed to be very restrictive policies on agricultural practices, including a ban on glyphosate (a well used herbicide) and a ban on GMO crops. Will new British policies remove these bans or potentially be even more restrictive?
- Staff from the EU have been providing a continual source of cheap manual labour. Should the UK government decide to restrict the movement of European nationals what effect will this have on small British farms, restaurants and other food related businesses and the UK economy as a whole?
- The UK imports the majority of it’s fresh fruit and vegetables as well as other grocery items. As the UK government sets out to negotiate trade relationships with each individual EU member country, each of these agreements will have a very direct impact on the food and drink companies that import the goods.
- The EU provided a protected status for national foods, such as Scotch whiskey and Stilton cheese. Without membership in the EU this protection disappears allowing anyone to label their whisky as “Scotch whiskey” without penalty. The onus will be on independent businesses to register an international trademark, as they used to have to do before Britain joined the EU.
Time will tell how the UK weathers the storm, it certainly will be an interesting period of history.